UCSB to Clash with CSUN in Big West Tournament First Round

Photo by Jeff Liang
Photo by Jeff Liang

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Tournament Central

The Schedule
Big West Tournament First Round
Thursday, Apr. 18, 2019 at 10:30 p.m. PT
No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (17-9) vs. No. 5 CSUN (13-13)
Stan Sheriff Center - Honolulu, Hawaii
All-time Record / Streak vs. the Matadors: 56-42 / W2
CSUN Streak / Last 10 – Won 2 / 5-5
UCSB Streak / Last 10 – Lost 4 / 4-6
2019 Series: UCSB def. CSUN, 3-0 @ UCSB on Mar. 29, 2019
UCSB def. CSUN, 3-2 @ CSUN on Mar. 30, 2019

Big West Tournament Semifinal
Friday, Apr. 19, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. PT
UCSB/CSUN vs. No. 1 Long Beach State

It's Tournament Time!
The No. 4 seeded UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team begins its quest for an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament at this week's Big West Conference Tournament. The Gauchos will take on No. 5 seed CSUN in the opening round on Thursday, Apr. 18 at 10:30 p.m. PT with No. 1 Long Beach State awaiting the winner in Friday's semifinal. The other first round matchup pits No. 3 UC Irvine against No. 6 UC San Diego with the winner of that match set to play No. 2 Hawai'i on Friday. The championship match will take place on Saturday, Apr. 20 at 11:00 p.m. PT

Last Week in Review
No. 3 UCSB closed out the regular season with a pair of losses at the hands of No. 9 UC Irvine. In Irvine on Friday night, UCSB fell 3-0 (29-27, 25-12, 25-22) despite a 15-kill, 13-dig double-double from Spencer Fredrick. On Saturday's senior night in Rob Gym, UCSB could not overcome a slow start and fell 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 34-32). Corey Chavers led the way for the Gauchos with 22 kills in his final home match while seniors Hayden Boehle and Connor Drake were also recognized prior to the match. 

Matadors Matchup
UCSB won both meetings against CSUN this season and will look to make it a third in a rematch of last season's Big West Tournament First Round matchup. The Gauchos defeated the Matadors 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 32-30) at home behind 14 kills from Corey Chavers, 12 kills from Ryan Wilcox and 11 from Spencer Fredrick. On the road the next night, the Gauchos rallied from a 2-1 deficit to top CSUN 3-2 (22-25, 28-26, 17-25, 25-15, 15-9) after hitting .400 as a team and a team-high 14 kills from Keenan Sanders and 18 digs from Hayden Boehle. CSUN is paced by All-Big West First Teamer, Dimitar Kalchev, who tallied 333 kills (3.40 k/s) and All-Freshman setter Taylor Ittner (947 assists, 9.76 a/s). The Matadors went 3-7 in conference play with a win over UCI, and finished up the season with back-to-back wins against UC San Diego. 

Tournament History
In last season's inaugural Big West Tournament, the seeds were flipped as No. 5 UCSB fell to No. 4 CSUN 3-1 at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach in the opening round. In fact, that is the only difference from last year to this year as all of the other seeds remain the same. No. 1 LBSU swept No. 2 Hawai'i in the title match and eventually went on to win the NCAA Championship. 

In the Record Books
Senior libero Hayden Boehle reached the No. 8 spot in the UCSB record books with 672 career digs to date while also reaching No. 9 in single-season history with 245 digs this year. Boehle is just one dig away from tying Olympian Todd Rogers for the No. 8 spot and has a chance to climb even higher at this weekend's Big West Tournament. Corey Chavers also cemented himself in history, reaching No. 4 all-time with 94 service aces. 

Wilcox Named Freshman of the Year; Four Gauchos Earn All-Big West Honors
Ryan Wilcox capped off an impressive debut campaign with Big West Freshman of the Year honors, highlighting a quartet of Gauchos recognized among the All-Big West Teams that were announced on Monday afternoon. Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers landed on the First Team along with fellow senior libero Hayden Boehle while Wilcox also earned Honorable Mention accolades. Both Wilcox and freshman middle blocker Brandon Hicks were named to the All-Freshman Team.

Chavers Leading the Charge
Senior outside hitter Corey Chavers has had a phenomenal senior campaign for the Gauchos, adding a First Team All-Big West selection to his trophy case for 2019. Chavers has been named Big West Athlete of the Week three times, earned an AVCA National Player of the Week honor and was named Off the Block's National Outside Attacker of the Week, twice. Chavers had a 10 consecutive match streak with double-digit kills earlier in the season and leads the Big West with 343 kills (3.50 k/s). Not a one-trick pony, Chavers also leads the team with 38 service aces, and is among the leaders with 108 digs and 57 total blocks. 

I Can Dig It
Senior libero Hayden Boehle ranks second in the Big West and sixth in the nation with an average of 2.47 digs per set. The Westchester, Calif. native is tied for the conference lead and fifth in the nation with his total of 245 digs. He had a season-high of 18 digs come in a five-set win at CSUN and has 15 double-digit dig matches this year. 

Battle Tested
Santa Barbara played the seventh toughest schedule in the nation in 2019 with their cumulative opposition boasting a .609 winning percentage (401-257). 20 of UCSB's 26 matches were against AVCA Top-15 opponents and the Gauchos went 11-9 overall against them.

Irons, Devany Named to AVCA Thirty Under 30
UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball Associate Head Coaches Cullen Irons and Vincent Devany were named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Thirty Under 30 recipients, it was announced last week. The award recognizes the top 30 up-and-coming coaches at all levels of the sport, and nominees had to be younger than 30 years old in 2018. Irons and Devany were the lone recipients from the NCAA Division I-II Men level.